Responding To Post Truth Politics

In his article Understanding Trump, George Lakoff offers a master class in the psychology of the Trump phenomenon. It is definitely worth your time to read it.

At the end, he outlines a game plan for responsing to Trump which I think is superb. But I think it applies to more than just US politics; it’s a way to respond to post-truth politics anywhere. Here is a quick edit of the final section of Lakoff’s essay that generalises it for use anywhere:

First, don’t think of an elephant. Remember not to repeat false conservative claims and then rebut them with the facts. Instead, go positive. Give a positive truthful framing to undermine claims to the contrary. Use the facts to support positively-framed truth. Use repetition.

Second, start with values, not policies and facts and numbers. Say what you believe, but haven’t been saying. For example, progressive thought is built on empathy, on citizens caring about other citizens and working through our government to provide public resources for all, both businesses and individuals. … And stop defending “the government.” Talk about the public, the people, public servants, and good government. And take back freedom. Public resources provide for freedom in private enterprise and private life.

The conservatives are committed to privatizing just about everything and to eliminating funding for most public resources. The contribution of public resources to our freedoms cannot be overstated. Start saying it.

Third, keep out of nasty exchanges and attacks. Keep out of shouting matches. One can speak powerfully without shouting. Calmness and empathy in the face of fury are powerful.

Values come first, facts and policies follow in the service of values. They matter, but they always support values.

Give up identity politics. No more women’s issues, black issues, Latino issues. Their issues are all real, and need public discussion. But they all fall under freedom issues, human issues. And address poor whites!

 

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